Relatives Seek Recovery Of Four Fishermen's Bodies

Relatives of four fishermen missing off New Jersey for more than two days acknowledge that the men are dead.

The Coast Guard wouldn't say Thursday whether it will search the sunken wreck of the scallop boat owned by a North Carolina man.

But relatives of the victims say determining whether the bodies are inside the boat is their top priority right now.

They say they have a private diver on standby if the Coast Guard decides not to search for bodies.

Only one of the seven crew members of the Lady Mary is known to have survived after the boat sank early Tuesday.

The Coast Guard called off the search Wednesday night.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Search Suspended

The Coast Guard suspended its active search Wednesday night for the four missing fishermen from the 71-foot fishing vessel Lady Mary.

The commercial fishing boat sank early Tuesday morning, 75 miles off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey.

The Coast Guard says their extensive 37 hour search totaled a search area that covered 3,417 square nautical miles.

Four crew members remain missing, and at least two of the missing men are from Pamlico County. The bodies of two other family members were found Tuesday.

Hope that the four are found safe faded Wednesday. The Coast Guard said they recovered the Lady Mary's life raft and emergency radio beacon.

As WITN reported Tuesday, the Coast Guard now confirms that brothers Roy Smith Jr. and Timothy Smith were killed in Tuesday's accident.

Still missing are Frenki Credle, Frank Reyes, William Torres and Tarzan Smith.

Credle is a cousin of the Smith brothers, while Tarzan Smith is their uncle.

The Coast Guard says hometowns were not immediately available, but say they appeared to have split their time between North Carolina and New Jersey.

The seven were aboard the 71-foot Lady Mary when it went down 75 miles off the coast of Cape May Tuesday. Only one crew member is known to have survived, thus far.

Other fishing boats in the area said bad weather quickly closed in on the area just before the boat sank.

This could rank among the nation's worst commercial fishing accidents.

Pamlico County Fishermen On Lady Mary

Four members of a Pamlico County family were aboard a fishing boat that went down in the Atlantic Ocean Tuesday morning off the New Jersey coast

WITN News has learned that two of those family members are dead. They are Roy Smith, Jr. and his brother, Timothy.

Family members tell us two other family members were on the boat. Tarzan "Bernie" Smith, who is an uncle, and Frankie Credle, a cousin, are still missing.

The boat is owned by Roy Smith, Sr. of Bayboro.

The two dead men are brothers of former Houston Oilers defensive tackle Doug Smith of Mesic.

The coast guard says seven people were on the scallop boat that sank about 75 miles offshore. It was based at Cape May.

Three crew members were plucked earlier from the water -- one dead, one barely alive and another conscious and alert.

Helicopters and boats are searching a large swath of ocean for the missing crew members. Included in that rescue effort are MH-60J Jayhawk helicopter and HC-130J Hercules air crews from Air Station Elizabeth City

Previous Story

One crew member died and a second was critically ill after the Lady Mary, a 71-foot scallop boat based at Cape May in southern New Jersey and owned by a North Carolina man, sank with seven people aboard about 75 miles off the coast.

A third crew member was conscious and alert when he was plucked with the other two from the water by a helicopter. Two helicopters, an airplane and two boats swept a 225-square-mile area of the Atlantic Ocean for the remaining people.

All seven crew members were wearing cold-water survival suits, the Coast Guard said, but it was not clear how long they could hold out in the 40-degree water, with the air temperature at 33 degrees.

At the dock where the Lady Mary was based, about two dozen relatives and friends of the fishermen held hands and prayed.

"God, we pray for a miracle," said Marcia Janifer, whose sister is engaged to Roy Smith Jr., one of the men she said was missing Tuesday afternoon. She described Smith Jr. as "shy but funny."

Smith's father, Roy Smith Sr. of Bayboro, N.C., owned the boat, said Clara Burkhardt, office manager of the Cold Springs Fish and Supplies, which bought seafood from the elder Smith. He was on his way from home to Cape May by Tuesday afternoon, she said.

An hour after receiving a transmission at 7:30 a.m. from an emergency radio beacon, a Coast Guard helicopter found three crew members in the water near an empty life raft bobbing in the ocean. They were taken to a hospital, where one was pronounced dead and a second was unresponsive but showed vital signs, the Coast Guard said.

The third rescued crew member was able to tell authorities that all seven members of the crew donned lifesaving suits "and abandoned ship" for a reason he didn't specify, said Petty Officer Andrew Kendrick.

Waves were 4 to 7 feet high when the boat sank, Kendrick said. Searching for the missing boaters were two helicopters and an airplane from Coast Guard stations in Elizabeth City, N.C., and Atlantic City, as well two boats from Cape May.

Cape May trails only Gloucester, Mass., on the East Coast in terms of tons of fish brought ashore each year, Mayor Edward Mahaney said.

Commercial fishermen all know they could be lost at sea someday, Janifer said.

"It is a known possibility," she said. "They are well aware of the danger you could get in out there."

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